Summer reading — the first four

I think it’s important to always be reading. Whether your reading the morning news during breakfast or reading a book before you go to sleep, reading is important. I think it’s even more important to read during the summer. Summertime is a great time to relax, and for some people that means taking an intellectual break. But I couldn’t think of a better way to relax than to flex my intellectual muscles and spend my summertime (when I’m not working) cutting down on my reading list.

Here are the first four books I’ve read this summer, if you care to know at all.

1. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry

It’s a classic, and I couldn’t pass it up. It’s been sitting on my shelf unread for nearly two years, and it deserved some attention. “The Giver” exists in a so-called utopian society — pain, strife and emotion have all been eliminated to create “Sameness” in the community. The story explores the depths of why we need to feel emotion and pain. It explores the powerful connection of loving one another, but intertwines realization and understanding of why society won’t ever be, and shouldn’t be, perfect.

2. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

A young-adult classic if you will, “Perks” is a raw, compelling story about being a teenager while dealing with the scars of sexual assault from childhood. I like to relate to the books I read, but this is one I’m glad I cannot relate with. With that said, I know this book has been a life raft in a raging ocean of adolescence for many teens. I can’t relate, but this book opened my eyes to connecting with my peers and understanding their emotional baggage — no matter the circumstance. A beautiful story of friendship, trust and navigating the teenage years, this book deserves your attention. It’s a short read, and your local library is sure to have it on their shelves.

3. “Fourth of July Creek” by Smith Henderson

This was a book I had never heard of. I simply approached it on the shelf at the library, and I was drawn to it because of its cover art. It was a slow read to start, but once I was invested in the characters, it was easy to finish. The book explores the America we don’t often see, but probably should. Set in rural Montana, protagonist and social worker deals with his owns family’s upheaval, while trying to manage the upheaval of families in his multiple case files. Read this one if you have time — it’s a telling story of a backwards beliefs and rural, poverty-stricken American during the Carter/Reagan years.

4. “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller

I simply don’t have enough characters or capacity to sing praises to this story of bettering your story. Donald Miller, midst collaborating on writing a movie based on his previous best-selling novel “Blue Like Jazz,” comes to the self-realization that his story isn’t that interesting. Miller balances charity, relationships and adventure is creating a more interesting, more compelling story. But perhaps the most interesting and most compelling component of his juggling act is how his faith plays into making his best, our best, story. How can we live a better story that makes our impact more meaningful, but also is obedient to God’s story for us?

The book emphasizes self-honesty and self-inspection. Thank you, Kyle Johnson, for introducing me to this book. Take a couple days this summer, and in your blog post you can thank me for introducing you to this eye-opening book.

One of my favorite excerpts from the book:

“If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.”

 

Have you read any of these excellent books? Have any suggestions for me to read? What’s on your summer reading list? Leave them in the comments below.

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